Militarization of Police

Another Isolated Incident

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In Lawrenceville, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta:

Gwinnett County police drug investigators on Wednesday served a "no-knock" search warrant and forced entry into a Lawrenceville house, but soon discovered they were at the wrong address.

In a news release, a Gwinnett police official said it was "a case of human error and not deliberate malfeasance on the part of the investigator."

[…]

The front door was patched with a piece of wood Wednesday night, but splinters still littered the front hallway of the home of John Louis, 38, and his girlfriend Heather James, 37.

Louis said he was upstairs working from a home office when police used a battering ram to break through the door. James and their 3-month-old daughter were asleep in separate bedrooms.

"They came in here and put guns to us. The house was full of police," Louis said. "I've never had a gun in my face before. I've never even held a gun."

He said that he and James, who was in a nightgown, were ordered at gunpoint to lie on the floor. When he tried to ask what they wanted, Louis said, he was told to "shut up."

After the officers roamed through the house for a few minutes, they spotted the baby and realized their mistake, Louis said. He said they apologized and told him they confused his home with that of a neighbor two doors down, a suspected methamphetamine distributor.

Louis said he still has questions for police about how such a mistake happened.

"If you had the house under surveillance for three months, why did you come here?" Louis said. "You broke in here and put all our lives in danger, and all you can say is you're sorry?"

Seems like we've reached a troubling new comfortableness with wrong-door raids when the police department's defense is, "well, at least it wasn't deliberate."  I'd hope that raiding the wrong house would never be deliberate.

Video of a local news report here.

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  1. I’d hope that raiding the wrong house would never be deliberate.

    I would too, but wouldn’t count on it.

  2. I’m shocked. The police apologized?

  3. “If you had the house under surveillance for three months, why did you come here?” Louis said. “You broke in here and put all our lives in danger, and all you can say is you’re sorry?”

    The poor bastard doesn’t realize that he’s lucky he even got that. It’s a good thing he didn’t try to defend himself.

  4. Shouldn’t some clever defense attorney argue that raiding the wrong house creates a presumption that the facts underlying the warrant were invented, if and when the cops get around to searching the right house?

    I bet the warrant application made all sorts of claims about surveillance on the house – and if actual surveillance had taken place, the cops would not have gone to the wrong house.

    Maybe that’s one place to try to place “punishment” for these botched raids, to encourage the police to get it right. “If you raid the wrong house, it creates the presumption that you no longer have probable cause to search the right house.” Maybe that would make the cops take greater care.

  5. Another isolated incident that demonstrates that chaos and mayhem are the inevitable results of just not the war on drugs, but the monopolization of the administration of justice.

  6. You Randians, come hither and argue otherwise!

  7. What really got my goat was, as the news reported told it, that the county “agreed” to fix the door. As though they didn’t HAVE to fix it… they “agreed” to fix it… out of the goodness of their hearts.

    By the way… there IS a difference between “malicious malfeasance” which they are denying, and simply “gross malfeasance”, which is what I would be suing for.

    As I was googling “no knock raids atlanta” last night, trying to find a link to this story, I saw a lot of hits concerning the Georgia General Assembly considering a ban on no knocks, shortly after Kathryn Johnson’s death… I guess they didn’t get too far with that.

    Disgusted in Georgia.

    CB

  8. And this happened just as the Atlanta police announced a proposed legislation to remove all power from the Citizen Review Board, established after the Katrhyn Johnson murder…

  9. “If you raid the wrong house, it creates the presumption that you no longer have probable cause to search the right house.”

    A agree with this.

  10. “If you had the house under surveillance for three months, why did you come here?”

    I’m sorry, but that made me laugh out loud.

    And I think Fluffy is on to something, but I don’t think it would ever be allowed to impede the dispensation of justice.

  11. If you had the house under surveillance for three months, why did you come here?

    Because they were lying about having the house under surveillance?

  12. Because they were lying about having the house under surveillance?

    Or completely incompetant to the point that even after months of surveillance they couldn’t work out the right door? Or that they got no useful information from the surveillance, but trumped up some other evidence to get PC?

  13. Considering Gwinnett Co uses job fairs, radio ads, and roadside banners to recruit police officers, they were lucky to get the right street.

  14. It’s a good thing the baby was asleep. Had she been awake, the cops might have perceived her as a threat and acted accordingly.

  15. domo, even I can’t believe that the pigs are so incompetent that they can’t hit a house that they’ve been sitting outside of for three months. Hence, lying.

  16. The front door was patched with a piece of wood Wednesday night, but splinters still littered the front hallway of the home of John Louis, 38, and his girlfriend Heather James, 37.

    Jeez, that’s a whole mess of first names. Was the warrant signed by Clarence Thomas?

  17. You’re probably right – but I never rule out staggering incompetance. Especially when the police are involved.

  18. Because they were lying about having the house under surveillance?

    I don’t know how these things work – are the people who carry out the raids usually the same people who carry out the surveillance?

    Or do the detectives call in some County SWAT Team cops to raid the house at the end of the investigation?

  19. Vic Mackey doesn’t make mistakes, domo. Maybe Shane or Ronnie, but not Vic.

  20. I don’t know how these things work – are the people who carry out the raids usually the same people who carry out the surveillance?

    I thought about that, but I can’t believe that the guys who sat on the place for that amount of time wouldn’t even be present for the raid. Even if they didn’t enter, they’d be there, and could therefore point to the right house. Wouldn’t they want the collar on their records, too?

  21. A scary thought. If all you need to find to make the whole operation a “success” is any amount of drugs, and you choose the neighborhood carefully, aren’t the odds in favor of any house being the “right house”?

    I mean, if they had found even a trivial amount of marijuana, wouldn’t the PD be defending this raid?

  22. I don’t know how these things work – are the people who carry out the raids usually the same people who carry out the surveillance?

    Or do the detectives call in some County SWAT Team cops to raid the house at the end of the investigation?

    Wow, I’m seeing a total parallel there to the runup to the Iraq war.

  23. I hear you, Episiarch. Even if they’re not crashing through the door, wouldn’t they be waiting outside?

    But even if they’re not, that right there would be some gross incompetence. How can you not send someone to confirm that they’ve got the right house? Somone intimately familiar with the case who can tell who’s who once they go in?

  24. How can you not send someone to confirm that they’ve got the right house?

    “Here’s an address. Have fun storming the castle. Make sure you kill any dogs. We’ll go for a beer after you get back.”

  25. The video report says that when they did raid the neighbor’s house: (i) there were no drugs; but (ii) they did take $24,000 in cash.

  26. I think either lies or incompetence should invalidate the warrant.

    After all, if the police raid the wrong house, who’s to say they didn’t conduct their surveillance on the wrong house, too?

    So even if they’re telling the truth about having conducted surveillance, for all we know they did so at some house on the other side of town.

  27. The video report says that when they did raid the neighbor’s house: (i) there were no drugs; but (ii) they did take $24,000 in cash.

    Oh, clearly justice was served, then.

  28. Stupid cops! All the more reason for every citizen in the land to booby trap their entrance ways with a claymore mine!

    jess
    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  29. Don’t think some lucky Lawrenceville attorney hasn’t thought of that, Fluffy.

  30. I wish the cops would mistakenly raid Anonymity Guy’s house.

  31. It’s a good thing the baby was asleep. Had she been awake, the cops might have perceived her as a threat and acted accordingly.

    Yeah. It’s fortunate she wasn’t holding the baby. Ask Tarika Wilson’s relatives about the dangers of that threatening behavior..

  32. That was the practice run before going to the actual house.

  33. A scary thought. If all you need to find to make the whole operation a “success” is any amount of drugs, and you choose the neighborhood carefully, aren’t the odds in favor of any house being the “right house”?
    In your favor? Yes. Guaranteed? No.

  34. Nothing to start the morning off better than loading up reason and seeing “Another Isolated Incident” topping my H&R list. There’s nothing to even say anymore. This choir has been preached to so many times that we all know the sermon by heart. The cops are douchebags, likely lying about their investigation, or are so incompetent that they cannot even manage the most important of communications: where the fucking house is. I drive pizzas around as a part time job. I’ve never gone to the wrong fucking house.

  35. Stupid cops! All the more reason for every citizen in the land to booby trap their entrance ways with a claymore mine!

    Hate to feed the anonymity troll, but I’m just thinking here. I know booby-traps in the classic sense (no human intervention) are illegal, but what about command detonated? If I rig 4 12GA shotguns in the attic pointing down into my entry way and remotely pull the trigger when some evildoer tries to break in, will they try to prosecute me for that? Seems to me if my device complies with the usual firearms regulations, they’d have no grounds for any additional charges.

  36. That was the practice run before going to the actual house.

    Two doors down where much flushing occured while the highly trained cops imbued with “new professionalism” announced there prescence to everybody on the fucking street.

  37. there —> their.
    Fuckin’ homonyms!

  38. I drive pizzas around as a part time job. I’ve never gone to the wrong fucking house.

    hahaha – good one. I wish a judge would say that next time these jerkoffs presented a warrant.

    I guess have to find that link to see how many of these there were this year. Though there’s plenty of time to get a few more in, just in time for the holidays.

  39. I drive pizzas around as a part time job. I’ve never gone to the wrong fucking house.

    Time to short your Win fitures, everybody. Robbieq just flooded the market.

  40. Maybe recruit cops from the pizza delivery labor pool…

  41. Perhaps the police should run their raids like a hospital runs surgery. Check the address before the raid. Check that against the surveillance address. Check that with the commanding officer and verify again with the surveillance team. Go to the houses on either side of the intended raid and spraypaint a big red X on the door and then “not this house” on the windows. Go to the intended house, check the address again, and spraypaint a big green circle around the front door and “this is the one” next to it. Check the address again, then bash in the door, shoot puppies and pancake any elderly ladies that sass back.

  42. On the bright side of things, the Odessa, Texas police got caught with their pants down on video:
    http://www.examiner.com/x-536-Civil-Liberties-Examiner~y2008m12d6-Trap-springs-on-corrupt-cops-in-Odessa-Texas

  43. Fuckin’ homonyms!

    That’ll be gaynyms to you, Bubba.

  44. J sub D | December 11, 2008, 11:21am | #

    there —> their.
    Fuckin’ homonyms!

    They’re homophones.

  45. They’re homophones.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  46. I can’t believe all you libertards.
    The police are here to protect us, and surely the vast majority of these raids go unnoticed because they are successful and improve our security and protect our children from the dangers of drugs.
    They even said they were sorry and are going to fix the guy’s door. What more do you want?!

  47. FLUFFY “I bet the warrant application made all sorts of claims about surveillance on the house – and if actual surveillance had taken place, the cops would not have gone to the wrong house.”

    You and your belief in logic, cause and effect, and reality.

    “Maybe that’s one place to try to place “punishment” for these botched raids, to encourage the police to get it right. “If you raid the wrong house, it creates the presumption that you no longer have probable cause to search the right house.” Maybe that would make the cops take greater care.”

    I just don’t buy our indoctrinated view that we punish the police by not prosecuting someone else. AT A MINIMUM, the police in such raids should be fired for incompetence. I mean, did all the houses have the same house number, same design, and were painted the same color with 1.3 children standing outside? Next they should be investigated, and prosecuted for having submitted false information (statement on search warrants). In the case of injury or death, we have a whole menu…manslaughter, wrongful death, murder II, murder I.
    O, thats right… that would mean we run this place using logic, cause and effect, and reality. Me bad.

  48. Radley Balko, how do I know you’re not making this story up. It seems like everytime you reason kids (specifically Balko) get a story like this you always twist it to your “end the drug war propaganda”. You simply refuse to take a reasonable angle on the story.

    I’d try to be more objective if I were you. However, since I’m not, enjoy your bias-filled echo chamber.

  49. Police swoop to save kidnap girl, 9

    Found 1 1/2 hours after abduction
    Officers credit fast reaction time

    CAMILLE ROY, GAIL SWAINSON AND FRANK CALLEJA
    STAFF REPORTERS

    A quick decision to initiate a high-level abduction investigation likely saved a missing 9-year-old girl’s life, York Region police say.

    “I think it was probably the key element in finding her alive,” Detective Les Young, acting inspector for investigative services, said yesterday.

  50. Radley “Confirmation Bias” Balko.

  51. joe’s law | December 11, 2008, 12:28pm | #

    J sub D | December 11, 2008, 11:21am | #

    there —> their.
    Fuckin’ homonyms!

    They’re homophones.

    According to EnglishNet.com homophone is a subset of homonym.
    Englishtest.net.Description of homonym (noun)

    two words having the same sound but different meanings

    OED (not on the internet, look it up) concurs.

    Merriam Webster OnLine doesn’t. Merriam Webster is WRONG!

  52. I think Lefiti and kos “realist” need to have bags of weed mailed to their homes.

  53. Radley,

    seriously, when is the Yet Another Isolated Incident book coming out? I need to hand out copies like candy to people who wouldnt be bothered to read reason or wouldnt put together the few links I might send them until a coherent whole.

    Also, if you name it anything else, Im not buying it. đŸ™‚

  54. I think Lefiti and kos “realist” need to have bags of weed mailed to their homes.

    You mean as a gift for my insightful post? No schwag though. Please don’t shoot my dog, cat/roommates okay.

  55. J sub D-

    You know, you and I agree on the big picture-you are as hard core anti-drug war as I am. One thing that I do disagree with you and other posters about is the perception thing. The other day you opined that the parties seeking to have Obama prove his constitutional qualifications through their lawsuits are parties with whom libertarians should not associate. Others have made that point concerning 9/11 sceptics arguing that associating with these folks is bad, perception wise for libertarians.

    Obviously, I don’t put as much stock in that line of thinking as do you and others. Today, I just want to point out that our association with Balko and the hard core anti-drug war may, by your line of thinking, hurt libertarians with a sizeable percentage of the folks who associate us with “the druggies” and “lighting up”, etc. I do not include Lefiti and Kos realist as I suspect that they are just, well, being themselves.

    However, my point is, we can’t afford to worry too much about appearances. Being a hard core freedom freak is going to piss people off-including all of the people who think that we can’t let people decide for themselves whether or not to drop some acid.

  56. Lefiti and kos realist, you are complete and utter frauds.

  57. Asharak, that is completely true, for me at least. For me it’s entertainment to explore how I would react to posts on H&R if I were a total asshat with absolutist beleifs contrary to reason itself. I do have FUN doing it too.

  58. “”””You’re probably right – but I never rule out staggering incompetance.””””

    I think indifference plays a bigger role. They don’t give a crap about regular people, many cops think they have a right to treat you how they want. They are the law in their eyes. If they make a mistake they expect to be excused, when we make a mistake, we need to pay for it.

    “”””The video report says that when they did raid the neighbor’s house: (i) there were no drugs; but (ii) they did take $24,000 in cash.””””

    Did the wrong raid tipped them off?

    “””””You broke in here and put all our lives in danger, and all you can say is you’re sorry?””””

    He’s lucky someone’s not dead and he actually got an apology.

  59. Asharak, that is completely true, for me at least. For me it’s entertainment to explore how I would react to posts on H&R if I were a total asshat with absolutist beleifs contrary to reason itself. I do have FUN doing it too.

    How does opposing the War on Drugs and police misconduct automatically constitute having absolutist beliefs contrary to reason itself? In Lefiti’s case, I called him a fraud because he considers himself a leftist/liberal while supporting the drug war and viewing police as heroes.

  60. “Police swoop to save kidnap girl, 9

    Found 1 1/2 hours after abduction
    Officers credit fast reaction time

    CAMILLE ROY, GAIL SWAINSON AND FRANK CALLEJA
    STAFF REPORTERS

    A quick decision to initiate a high-level abduction investigation likely saved a missing 9-year-old girl’s life, York Region police say.

    “I think it was probably the key element in finding her alive,” Detective Les Young, acting inspector for investigative services, said yesterday.”

    ‘s not an anarchist site, the complaints are about police incompetence/misconduct. If we didn’t have stories like that one, anarchism would actually be more reasonable.

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